Hamptons Doc Fest and the Southampton Arts Center are presenting a special screening of Martin Scorsese’s The Last Waltz (1978) – which Rolling Stone Magazine lauded as “the single greatest concert movie of all time” – on Sunday, June 27.
“Scorsese left us a time capsule of one of the greatest documentary concert films ever made,” expressed Hamptons Doc Fest Founder and Executive Director Jacqui Lofaro. “It’s guaranteed to lift all spirits and for that, we are grateful.”
The documentary explores the final farewell concert of Canadian-American rock group The Band, held on Thanksgiving Day in 1976 at Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco. After 16 years on the road, the group went out with a real bang thanks to an epic concert that featured more than a dozen rock icons – including Eric Clapton, Neil Diamond, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Ringo Starr, Muddy Waters and Neil Young.
The Band consisted of Rick Danko on bass, violin and vocals, Levon Helm on drums, mandolin and vocals, Garth Hudson on keyboards and sax, songwriter Richard Manuel on keyboards, percussion and vocals, and songwriter Robbie Robertson on guitar and vocals. The film features beloved The Band tunes, such as Up on Cripple Creek, Stage Fright, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down and Don’t Do It, from that legendary set, combined with studio segments and interviews by Scorsese.
“Over 40 years ago, The Band gave their final concert in their original lineup, a massive swan song that these Canadian troubadours turned into an all-star spectacle. Calling the event “The Last Waltz,” the group’s de facto leader Robertson – who’d grown tired of being a rock & roll road warrior – and San Francisco promoter Bill Graham staged a no-expense-spared adieu that started with a Thanksgiving feast and ended with everyone from Neil Diamond to Neil Young accompanying the quintet. As far as farewells go, this one was major, and it might have been relegated to the you-had-to-like-have-been-there-man history books had a bearded, jittery Martin Scorsese not decided to ditch some responsibilities and call in some favors. The idea was to simply record the evening for posterity, though the then-35-year-old filmmaker had a few ideas of his own to add in to the mix. What he ended up with was the definitive document of these American-music scholars, an epitaph to a specific era of rock history,” David Fear of Rolling Stone said.
The Last Waltz was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry “for being culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress in 2019.
The evening at Southampton Arts Center will begin at 7:30 p.m. with a performance from JL Rolls the Dice, highlighting some of The Band’s hits, as well as their own music. JL Rolls the Dice features Randolph Hudson, Fred Gilde, Al Buonanno, Klyph Black and Jim Lawler. The film begins at 8:30 p.m.
Tickets are $15 and $10 for SAC members. Attendees are encouraged to bring a beach chair or blanket.
Southampton Arts Center is located at 25 Jobs Lane in Southampton. For more information, visit southamptonartscenter.com.